advancing, probably by combined movements from the line of the Rappahannock and on the south side of the James River, for an early attack on Richmond. The may precede or accompany their main attack by diversions, to cut off our railroad connections, especially at Weldon, and to distract and to divide our forces. Under these circumstances, it is very desirable to strengthen our forces along this line, and especially here, by all the re-enforcements which can be spared from other commands less imminently threatened.
From information of a general nature which has reached the Department, it is believed that the enemy has withdrawn very nearly all his forces from Northwestern Virginia, and has even in the Kanawha Valley but a limited detachment. On these points you are, however, doubtless, more fully informed. Should the information be in the main correct, the Department hopes that, with a portion of your command, you will be able during the coming winter adequately to defend the country intrusted to your charge, and that you will be able to spare for the temporary re-enforcement of the army here at least two regiments. If they can be dispensed with, there are additional considerations which would recommend their removal, for the Department learns that the resources of the country in which you are operating are this year very limited, and that it will be advisable to retain them, as far as possible, unimpaired until the spring, when you will have need to supply a larger force. You must judge of these considerations; but if it be practicable, without exposing your command and the country protected by it to too serious hazard, the Department earnestly to receive here all available assistance from your force. Should you conclude it unsafe to part with any of your force, I would still suggest, if it may be accomplished consistently with you arrangements for the defense of your command, that you should keep at least two regiments so near the railroad and so prepared for speedy movements that in case of a telegram informing you of the actual movements of the enemy in force on this city, they might be promptly conveyed here before decisive action of the enemy. You will please advise me of your views on this subject as soon as your judgment is sufficiently determined.
With great respect and esteem, your obedient servant,
J. A. SEDDON,
Secretary of War.
WAR DEPARTMENT, C. S. A., Richmond, Va., December 10, 1862.
Brigadier General HUMPHREY MARSHALL,
GENERAL: General Lee communicates his opinion that the enemy are preparing with a very large force to move from the Rappahannock line for the attack on Richmond, and it is from various sources of information apprehended that, just before or concurrently with such movement, large forces, either for combined attack or to cut off railroad connections, will be advanced on the south side of Weldon and toward Petersburg.
Our forces are now, necessarily, to be prepared for defense at many points which may be assailed, strung along an extend line, and much scattered. It is, therefore, the more important that they should be as numerous as possible, and that the forces stationed here, from which,